For one reason or another, rightfully earned or not, different parts of the world are often associated with the things they produce. Germany makes great cars, the Bay Area produces innovative technology, and Switzerland makes the best watches. Of course, this wasn’t always the case.
Back in the 16th century and all the way through until the 19th, it was the Germans, French, and British who reigned supreme in the watch world. Eventually, however, the Swiss outpaced their neighbors. Using an ‘etablissage’ production style – peasants and farmers producing parts of watches in the winter and then shipping them off to larger watchmakers in Switzerland – they eventually began to produce millions of more watches a year than other countries. In that fervor of activity in the mid-1800s, a few big players began to emerge. These watchmakers pulled all of their production in-house and focused on producing precision timepieces. Companies like IWC Schaffhausen, Longines, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin continued to refine their processes, and after WWII became supreme in the watch world.
Things have changed since then. The invention of Quartz movements shook the watch world to its core, but eventually Swiss watches recovered. Now, Swiss is synonymous with high quality in the world of watches. To help guide you through this specialized field we put together a list of what we think are the hands-down best Swiss watches on the market today.
Tissot PRC 200 Automatic Chronograph
This watch from Tissot boasts a Tissot automatic chronograph movement that drives an hour, minute and small seconds hand around the black HMsSD dial featuring larger Arabic numerals. The timepiece also boasts three subdials and a date window, and a rubberized strap that attaches to the 316 stainless steel case.
Longines Master Collection 38MM Automatic
A dressier, more refined watch, this timepiece features a clean silver dial with Arabic numerals and a trio of bright blue hands driven by a caliber 619/888 automatic movement with a 42-hour power reserve. The watch also comes with an alligator strap and deployment bracelet buckle.
Tag Heuer Monaco Calibre 12
For those looking for a distinct timepiece, this one from Tag Heuer is a great pick. Its square stainless steel case holds an automatic movement with 40-hour power reserve that drives the watch’s three main hands, subdials, and date window around its blue face. This particular timepiece comes with a blue alligator leather strap.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Steel
It is hard not to love this diving watch from Tudor. Introduced in 2017 at Baselworld, it boasts a Manufacture Calibre MT5612 movement that drives the famous snowflake hands around the watch’s stark black dial with prominent lum markings and date window. Along with being handsome, it boasts a waterproof build that’ll hold way down to 660 feet.
Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition
It isn’t often that one comes across bronze watches. This one from Oris was made in honor of the legendary diver Carl Brashear. It features an automatic winding bi-directionally rotating red rotor that drives its three hands under the watch’s domed, anti-reflective sapphire glass. With an accompanying 10 bar water resistance rating and leather bracelet – it is a hell of a handsome watch.
Bell And Ross BR V2-94 Black Steel
Bell and Ross is most known for its striking square-cased watches. While we’re certainly fans of those timepieces, we’re particularly enamored with the BR V2-94 Black Steel. The handsome watch features a black bezel that sits flush up against the ultra-curved sapphire with anti-reflective coating. The subdials and hour, minute, and second hands are powered by a BR-CAL.301 automatic mechanical movement that can keep on ticking up to 100 meters underwater.
Zenith Pilot Extra Special
Another solid bronze watch from zenith. It features an Elite 679 automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve that powers three hands around a clean, green dial with luminescent Arabic numerals. A rare timepiece that manages to be both cleanly built and totally unique.
Omega Speedmaster 38 Co-Axial Chronograph
While we’re probably more inclined to go for the classic black and white Speedmaster, this grey, black, and orange model from the Speedmaster 38mm collection is a super fun pick. It boasts all of the same functionality of the Swiss watch maker’s most famous chronograph like the scratch-resistant and anti-reflective crystal, the date window, and Omega 3330 movement but with a decidedly more sporty look.
Jaeger Lecoultre Reverso Classic Large Small Second
For those looking for a dress watch that will stand out from its peers – you should give the Reverso Classic a second look. The simple, petite watch features a square case holding a manual winding movement that drives a trio of hands across the silver dial and subdial. An all-around gorgeous, unique timepiece well worth the investment.
The Rolex Submariner and Sea-Dweller both feature very similar styling, but the reason we included the latter on this particular list is because of its impressive waterproofing. While the Submariner is water resistant to only 1,000 feet, the Sea Dweller can keep its Caliber 3235 movement ticking along at up to 4,000 feet under water – all while looking handsome as hell.
Fifty Fathoms Automatique
One of the most classic diving watches available today, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, features a calibre 1315 movement that drives three hands around a black dial. The face, like the bezel, rests under a domed sapphire crystal and remains waterproof to over 1,000 feet of water. And sticking with the watch’s aquatic origins, it comes with a sailcloth strap as well.
IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Chronograph Classic
If you were to ask a watch nerd what best represented the style and approach of IWC Schaffhausen as a brand, their likely responses would be the Portuguese. This beautifully built timepiece features an automatic self-winding calibre family 89000 movement, a clean and classically balanced dial with two subdials (at 12 and 6) and a date window at 3.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph
The coveted Royal Oak rides the line between rugged and elegant with its unmistakable blue Grand Tapisserie dial, subdials, hefty 41mm stainless steel case. The watch’s subdials, hands, and date window are all powered by a self-winding movement.
Patek Philippe 5711/1A Nautilus
This watch from Patek Philippe boasts a clean horizontally embossed dial set in a 40mm steel case with lumed indices and a trio of thin hands driven by a Caliber 324 S C movement. Altogether it’s a stunning timepiece.
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony
Finally, here’s a gorgeous dress watch with an hour and minute hand that rotates around a black dial with metallic indices, and a subdial that marks small seconds. The case measures in at 32mm and holds a caliber 1731 movement that boasts a 65-hour power reserve.
Best Places To Buy Vintage Watches Online
Are you looking for a high quality watch with a bit of a story behind it? Take a look at our list of the best places to buy vintage watches online.